The importance of keeping the OBD connector

The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) has recently welcomed many of the amendments approved by the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection committee (IMCO), as part of the forthcoming type approval legislation.

These relate to the diagnostics, repair and maintenance of vehicles and are an important step towards improving the legislative framework for independent operators. Over 184 amendments were approved and importantly for the aftermarket included a number of key revisions, the most important of which is keeping the OBD port to the vehicle open and accessible.

But, the battle has only just begun. After the proposal is accepted by the European Parliament, a compromise between the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU needs to be reached in a negotiation process known as “informal trilogues”. This means that the path to preserve the small, but very important, OBD connector remains a long one.

IAAF continues to work alongside FIGIEFA in Europe to represent the UK aftermarket and ensure its voice is heard. It has led the fight against the proposals and helped to directly influence the recently announced type approval amendments approved by IMCO with its work on the ‘Dalton Report’ issued by West Midlands’ MEP Daniel Dalton. Over the last 12 months, IAAF has held meetings with Dan Dalton, MEP for the West Midlands, and the IMCO committee to put forward the aftermarket perspective as part of this process.

A world without the OBD connector
Technicians are fully aware of the importance of an accessible OBD port. It enables them to efficiently diagnose vehicle faults and therefore provides added value to motorists in need of a quick fix.

With the continued development of technology and vehicle design, it is important that test equipment can still be connected to a vehicle through diagnostic equipment such as the OBD connector.

However, the radical changes proposed by type approval legislation will have severe consequences on consumer choice. If it goes ahead, independent garages will no longer have unmonitored access to the OBD connector as it could be controlled entirely by the VM through remote diagnostics performed with the use of their servers.

Clearly these alternatives create the risk that some VMs may utilise a legislative loophole and gain a monopoly on access to technical vehicle data, controlling the cost of information and potentially shutting out independent workshops entirely.

The OBD connector is therefore necessary for the operation of the entire automotive aftermarket so that it is able to continue to offer consumers a competitive choice in vehicle servicing and repair.

If IAAF and the other trade organisations fighting against the type approval proposals are successful then under legislation, VMs would have to continue to fit the OBD connector in new models of cars and consumer choice would remain protected.

The independent aftermarket serves 284 million motorists in Europe and has created 3.5 million jobs in 500,000 companies, of which most are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Its strong economical position is without doubt beneficial to motorists, as strong internal competition guarantees innovativeness, aggressive pricing and improved service quality.

In accordance with the domino theory, the consequences of removal of the small OBD connector would impact virtually all entities operating in the independent automotive market.

As well as garages, which would lose access to vehicle data and would have to depend on VMs, the missing OBD connector would also impact the entire spare parts supply chain including manufacturers, distributors, producers of diagnostic equipment and dedicated software for the OBD connector, as well as millions of drivers who would suffer the consequences of disrupted competition within the market.

Wendy Williamson, IAAF chief executive, said: “The IAAF continues to play a very active role in these discussions, as our aim is to improve the legal framework conditions for competitive RMI throughout the life of a vehicle. We are at a critical stage and we will work alongside other Federations and FIGIEFA in Europe to ensure the automotive aftermarket’s voice is heard.”

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IAAF Golf Day at Forest of Arden

The next IAAF Golf Team Challenge in aid of our industry charity, BEN will be taking place on 10th August at the Forest of Arden near Meriden.

There is still time to enter a team for the event, or we can still also accept entries from individuals.

The cost per team of four will be £325 per team plus vat and the cost for individuals will be £85 plus VAT per person. This includes:

  • Bacon Sandwich and coffee/Tea on arrival
  • 18 Holes of golf
  • Evening meal served after golf
  • Presentation of prizes to the winners on the dayThe Company Team Challenge will be a four ball format whereby the best two scores on each hole will score and on all par three holes all four scores will count. The overall winning team across the two days’ play will be invited to the IAAF’s Annual Dinner in December and will be presented with their prizes.

    The winning team from Omega Tools at the recent Worsley Park event

Joe Richardson is once again kindly organising these events on behalf of the IAAF and BEN and, if you need any further details, you can contact him on 07831 855829, by email, or the IAAF Office.

You can download a leaflet and booking form here: 2017-Golf-Brochure.

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Ben launches survey to help shape future services

Ben, the not for profit organisation and independent charity which helps people who work in the automotive industry, has launched a survey to seek valuable insights to help shape future services. Ben’s health and well-being services are defined by the people of the industry. Ben wants to help more people to navigate life’s challenges – and this is where you come in.

Ben recently highlighted the importance of physical health in its “Get fit for work and life” campaign

Take part in the survey!
By clicking the link below you’ll be agreeing to take part in a quick survey to tell Ben what health and well-being challenges are the most important to you and your employees. It will only take a few minutes of your time. Your answers and the results of the survey will help Ben to develop support services that best meet your needs and the needs of those working in the industry today. The survey is confidential and anonymous so you don’t need to reveal your name or contact details.

Click here to tell Ben what you think!

Thank you so much for your assistance with the survey, and regardless of the numbers completed, any contribution will help shape Ben’s future services and support for the industry.

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Software emissions fix for three million Mercedes diesels

Mercedes-Benz have announced that they will be offering owners of Mercedes-Benz vehicles in Europe a software fix for the diesel cars with Euro 5 and Euro 6 engines.

Daimler, which owns the luxury car maker, has recently been under intense pressure from police and prosecutors.  Authorities in Germany are investigating the possible manipulation of diesel exhaust emissions in passenger cars.

A Daimler spokesman has said the software fix, which will cost about £195m, was not linked to the police investigation.  He said the “voluntary service measure” was to cut nitrogen oxide pollution.

“The service actions involve no costs for the customers. The implementation of the measures will be starting in the next weeks,” Daimler said.

The measures come after German MPs questioned Mercedes-Benz executives about emissions. At the time the carmaker agreed with the transport ministry to undergo another round of emissions tests.

In May German police searched 11 offices of the carmaker as part of an investigation into possible fraudulent emissions data by employees; a total of 23 prosecutors and 230 police officers took part in the search in the states of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Berlin, Lower Saxony and Saxony.

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Electric cars will fuel huge demand for power, says National Grid

A dramatic growth in electric vehicles on Britain’s roads could see peak electricity demand jump by more than the capacity of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station by 2030, according to National Grid.

The number of plug-in cars and vans could reach 9m by 2030, up from around 90,000 today, said the company, which runs the UK’s national transmission networks for electricity and gas.

The impact of charging so many cars’ batteries would be to reverse the trend in recent years of falling electricity demand, driven by energy efficiency measures such as better refrigerators and LED lighting.

If electric vehicles were not charged smartly to avoid peaks and troughs in power demand, such as when people return home between 5pm and 6pm, peak demand could be as much as 8GW higher in 2030, National Grid said.

Shifting the charging of cars to times when demand is lower would reduce the extra peak demand to 3.5GW, a smaller amount but still a similar capacity to the new reactors being built at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

The forecasts are contained in the grid’s Future Energy Scenarios report, published just days after Volvo said all its new cars would be electric or hybrid from 2019 and France pledged to ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

National Grid acknowledged the cars’ batteries could also provide services and return power for the grid at a time when managing the network is becoming increasingly complex as variable sources of wind and solar power grow.

But it cautioned that there was “still debate over whether it will become commercially viable to flow electricity from a vehicle back onto the network to provide network services”.

In all of the scenarios, new nuclear power stations are assumed to be built and the capacity of interconnectors that provide backup power from Europe rises from 4GW now to between 10GW and 19GW in 2030.

National Grid did not take a view on the costs of the scenarios in the report, which was published just a day after a consumer group accused energy networks, including National Grid, of earning £7.5bn in unjustified profits over an eight-year period.

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Comline named one of 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain for the third time

Comline Auto Parts (Comline) is delighted to announce that it has been officially ranked in the London Stock Exchange Group’s 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain, a report celebrating the UK’s fastest-growing and dynamic small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The British distributor of European, Japanese and Korean replacement parts fulfilled the award criteria, identified by the London Stock Exchange and research company, DueDil, which stipulated ‘companies needed to show consistent revenue growth over a minimum of three years’ and ‘outperform their industry peers’.

Divyesh Kamdar with his certificate at the 1000 Companies ceremony

Comline’s inclusion in the 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain report for 2017 marks a hat-trick for the company following its inclusion in this same list in both 2014 and 2015. Furthermore, this is the latest in a string of awards and accolades earned by the British brand. Most recently, Comline was heralded among Europe’s elite through its inclusion in The Financial Times’ FT1000: Europe’s Fastest Growing Companies 2017 and the 2017 iteration of The Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200.

Additionally, Comline was honoured with the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade 2016, named Large Business of the Year by the Bedfordshire Business Awards 2016 and, within the aftermarket, received A1 Motor Stores’ Component Supplier of the Year 2016.

Marketing and Communications Manager, Leigh Davies, proclaimed Comline’s delight over this continued recognition: “Being listed as one of 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain is a tremendous feeling for all associated with Comline, and to make the list for a third year out of four is an incredible achievement.

“This latest accolade, and the many that have preceded it, reflect the sustained and ongoing success of Comline. Anyone who recently attended Automechanika Birmingham would have seen us proudly claim Comline to be ‘one of the fastest growing automotive brands in Europe’, and such accolades only serve to validate this statement.

Chief Executive of London Stock Exchange Group, Xavier Rolet, added: “Four years on, London Stock Exchange Group’s 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain report continues to highlight the dynamic, entrepreneurial and ambitious businesses across the country that are boosting UK productivity, driving economic growth and creating jobs.

“The strength and diversity of these companies is readily apparent with a broad mix of UK regions and sectors represented. These companies are the very heart of an ‘anti-fragile’ economy: more robust, more flexible and less prone to boom and bust. We must ensure we continue doing all we can to support high growth potential businesses like these.”

More detail on the methodology behind the report can be found online at

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Sonne appoints new Business Development Manager

Colin Thompson joins growing company.

Colin Thompson, the new Business Development Manager for Sonne

HELLA’s paint brand, Sonne, has grown exponentially in the past year, which is why the team behind the popular brand is introducing Colin Thompson into the Sonne group, as its new business development manager.

Colin has a wealth of knowledge and experience that has been accrued in successful roles within the automotive industry. He specialises in refinishing, tools and equipment and service segments.

Colin commented on his recent appointment: “I’m so excited to be joining the HELLA team at such a busy time for the brand. With Sonne’s recent one-year anniversary and the impressive growth that HELLA enjoys, it’s the perfect time to be part of the driven, dynamic and innovative company that shares my passion for success.”

The Sonne team is building a solid reputation in the bodyshop sector, not only for the brand’s comprehensive range of high quality coatings and ancillaries, but by providing the ideal free to choose alternative for refinish distributors and repairers who want to focus on performance, productivity and efficiency.

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Cyber threat equivalent to natural disaster

A report from Lloyd’s has warned that a widespread cyber-attack could be as damaging as a catastrophic natural disaster.

Counting the cost: Cyber exposure decoded predicted that a major attack could result in losses of more than £40.5bn.

Lloyds developed the report alongside cyber risk analytics firm Cyence. It revealed that a malicious hack that takes down a cloud service provider could generate losses of $53bn, while attacks on computer operating systems run by a large number of businesses around the world which could cause losses of $28.7bn.

Inga Beale, CEO of Lloyd’s, said, ‘This report gives a real sense of the scale of damage a cyber-attack could cause the global economy. Just like some of the worst natural catastrophes, cyber events can cause a severe impact on businesses and economies, trigger multiple claims and dramatically increase insurers’ claims costs. Underwriters need to consider cyber cover in this way and ensure that premium calculations keep pace with the cyber threat reality.

‘We have provided these scenarios to help insurers gain a better understanding of their cyber risk exposures so they can improve their portfolio exposure management and risk pricing, set appropriate limits and expand into this fast-growing, innovative insurance class with confidence.’

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World’s first whisky-fuelled car!

The world’s first car that uses whisky has fuel has been test-driven in Edinburgh. Made by residue from whisky, the biobutanol is designed as a direct replacement for petrol and diesel. The car was test driven in Edinburgh. Engines of vehicles do not need to be modified in order to use the fuel. The fuel is produced from a yeast based by-product made from distilling and fermentation.

The vehicle was test driven using the fuel for the first time at Edinburgh Napier University. Investors of the fuel see it as a potential alternative which can power the vehicle without the need to modify its engine. It was created by Celtic Renewables Ltd, a spinout company from Edinburgh Napier University, who also worked with Perthshire’s Tullibardine Distillery on the project.

According to Celtic Renewables founder and president Prof Martin Tangney said the residue was of no value whatsoever to the whisky industry. He said: “This is the first time in history that a car has ever been driven with a biofuel produced from whisky production residues. “It is fitting to do this historic drive in Scotland, which is famous not just for its world-renowned whisky but also for being a powerhouse for renewable energy.” The Edinburgh-based company recently received a £9m government grant to build a plant to develop the fuel. It is hoped this will be up and running by 2019.

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